Mindfulness Leighton Buzzard

Week One Mindful Resilience Course

Week One – Pressing Pause

Week One of the six-week mindful resilience course (which also stands alone as an Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop) focuses on using our senses of touch, sight, sound, and taste to be more aware of our present moment experiences.

The aim is to learn and practice the skills of mindfulness rather than sharing personal information or situations and events in your life that you might be struggling with. By the end of the first workshop, you will hopefully understand more about what mindfulness is and how you might be able to incorporate it into your daily life to help you be more resilient in the face of the ups and downs of life. Learning to pay attention to what is happening right now and interrupting any habits of being lost in thought.

Between the practical exercises, you will be invited to share what your experience of the exercise was like in pairs to compare how your experiences were similar and different. There is no right or wrong, it is simply noticing our experience whatever that may be. (Do not worry, this often includes experiences of sleepiness or not quite being sure what you are supposed to be doing as well as noticing your senses!).

Towards the end of the workshop, we consider the different ways that we can be more mindful of using our senses during things that we already do in our everyday lives. Keeping it as easy and effortless as possible with no meditation time required if that does not fit with your life. The idea is to be able to press pause on our routine, notice when we have slipped into autopilot and instead choose to notice moments of our day.

For more information on, course dates and prices visit the main page of the Mindfulness Leighton Buzzard website.

take a moment from Buddha Doodles

Mindfulness Leighton Buzzard

Mindful May

Did you try Mindful May?  I had a Mini Moment of Mindfulness or a mindful task every day through May on the Facebook Page.  Many had links to recordings or articles as well as suggestions for different mindful experiences.  If you enjoyed it why not repeat the process - if you missed it then start now!  The feedback was really positive and making new habits as easy, effortless and pleasant as possible is far more likely to lead to long term change.  Here is the list of tasks for you to try whenever you want to reconnect to the present moment instead of being lost in thought or on autopilot.

mindful may suggestions

Mindfulness Leighton Buzzard

Butterfly Mindfulness

Don’t worry butterfly mindfulness is not the latest upcoming trend to be introduced at practice group! It is more an unexpected mindful experience I had on my last trip to the zoo when we visited the butterfly house. On entering the butterfly area instead of being amazed at the butterflies I unexpectedly found myself feeling quite anxious as several large butterflies flew rather too close to my face for comfort. I was suddenly aware of my body feeling tense and ready for action, looking quickly in all directions for where the next one might be coming from and my heartbeat speeding up – classic symptoms of a stress response with my body preparing for fight, flight or freeze in the butterfly house of all places!

I was not alone in my response either – I heard and saw other people having similar experiences. I realised that I did not want the butterflies near my face and I was also concerned I would tread on one or knock one and hurt it. I found myself walking rather slowly and tentatively around and as my stress response gradually settled so did I, becoming more comfortable and confident in my surroundings and beginning to admire the gorgeous colours and antics of the butterflies. I started to take photos and was particularly keen to get a shot of one of the larger bright blue butterflies which danced around in front of me but would not stay put long enough for a photo resulting in me feeling annoyed that I could not get my perfect photo.

So in the space of probably five or so minutes I had experienced a range of emotions from happy to high alert stress to concentration and trepidation to confident to frustrated and finally to amusement at myself and how quickly thoughts and emotions can come and go despite how strongly we might feel them.

Once home and reflecting on the experience I wished that I had videoed a clip to use for this blog and social media – on the one hand an opportunity to share my mindful moment missed, but on the other hand I’m pleased I was not thinking about work on a family day out. So instead here is a fuzzy photo of my nemesis, my personal reminder that emotions come and go, some last longer than others, some leave the memory of them after they have gone but they are all transient.

blue butterfly

Mindfulness Leighton Buzzard

The Key to Happiness?

I recently posted the quote below to my Facebook page about the key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be.  It obviously struck a chord for lots of people as it received more reactions and shares than average so I thought you might like a post that expanded on the subject.

My last blog was about the differences between CBT and mindfulness but this is one of the areas where they both agree!  CBT as an approach believes that feelings of sadness and depression are often linked to thoughts about the past or loss while feelings of anxiety and fear are often linked to thoughts about the future, threat and danger - trying to change things and make them different to how they are by spending more time in the past or the future than in the present. 

Mainstream mindfulness is generally practised without any religious elements but it is originally a Buddhist practice.  In Buddhism it is believed that we have a human tendency to crave things that we want in order to keep ourselves safe and happy and that we grasp and hold onto what we do have.  It is this constant craving and grasping, trying to make things different from how they are which Buddhism believes leads to suffering. 

Please don't misunderstand; neither CBT therapists, Buddhists nor mindfulness teachers are going to suggest that we shouldn't improve dangerous situations for ourselves or others.  This is relating to the parts of our daily lives that we constantly wish were different - such as wanting the latest thing we can't afford, wishing things could just be a bit more perfect, thinking everything will be different or better when this or that happens.  

Practising mindfulness involves being aware of what is happening in the present moment - avoiding or interrupting getting carried away or caught up in only thoughts about the past or future or thoughts about craving and grasping.  

The present moment might include negative or difficult thoughts and feelings, but it can also include broadening our attention to include what else is also present using the senses - touch, sound, smell, sight and also the breath.  This broader attention gives a sense of space so that difficult thoughts and feelings are no longer the only thing that you are aware of.  Noticing how it is, without trying to change anything, acknowledging that's just how it is right now.

Do I still get lost in thoughts and feelings about the past and the future?  Yes, of course I do - it's part of being human!  However when I notice that's what I'm doing and how that may be negatively affecting my mood I generally choosing to be mindful as a way of interrupting those thoughts, come back to noticing how it is, right now, in the present moment. 

So next time you catch yourself caught up in a spiral of thoughts wanting the small stuff to be different and feeling unhappy why not give it a try?

the key to happiness is letting a situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be

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